Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube Dusts Off “Ghostbusters” to Make a Point: We’ve Got Movies!

ghostbustersGot a couple hours to kill? Want to enjoy a pleasant blast from the past? Head over to YouTube and check out “Ghostbusters,” which is running at its full length on Google’s (GOOG) video site, and prominently displayed on its homepage.

YouTube says it’s highlighting the Bill Murray/Dan Akroyd/Sigourney Weaver classic because this summer is the movie’s 25th anniversary.

Which is true! But I’m pretty sure the site is also trying to remind both Hollywood studios and run-of-the-mill YouTube users that the site can and does run more than just short, home-brewed clips–it’s got a bunch of movies, TV shows, and other “premium content,” too.

Not nearly as much as Hulu, of course, but YouTube is still trying to figure out how to change that. One way is by simply creating special sections to highlight movies and TV shows, which is one of the reasons it got Sony’s (SNE) Crackle on board last spring. Another is to offer content owners special incentives to hand over their stuff to the world’s biggest video site.

If you do watch “Ghostbusters,” for instance, note that the traditional YouTube player has been replaced by one from Crackle. YouTube also recently agreed to let Disney’s (ESPN) use its own player as well.

On the other hand, there’s still plenty of other “premium content” on YouTube that doesn’t appear to be sanctioned by the contents’ owners and that doesn’t appear to be generating any revenue or other benefit for them, either. Like this grainy, but still excellent, “Ghostbusters” excerpt:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work